Monday, October 14, 2013

REVIEW: Starter Chess Learning Kit by Chess House

We had the opportunity to try out the Starter Chess Learning Kit by Chess House.

 

WHAT IS IT?:

The Starter Chess Learning Kit gives you everything you need to learn how to play chess easily.  Designed for all ages but very well-suited to ages 6-12, this set includes:

  • Elliott’s Chess School DVD #1 – “Pawn Level", which introduces the basics of playing chess in small segments that are easy to understand and follow, even for very young children
  • Plastic, regulation-size, all-purpose chess pieces that are perfect for practice or competition
  • An odor-free plastic chessboard mat that rolls up for quick storage and portability, made in the USA
  • A lovely zippered storage bag with compartments inside to neatly store all of the chess pieces, the roll-up chessboard, and the DVD for easy portability

This set is available with your choice of green or black storage bag for the sale price of $39.95, reg. $49.95, plus shipping and handling (free S&H on orders over $100).  This would make a great gift for any family!

 

OUR EXPERIENCE:

I don’t play chess myself, but my husband, Steve, does.  He’s played with our 14-year old son, Hayden, for years.  He had previously spent a little bit of time trying to teach our 9-year old daughter, Haylee, to play.  She could play with some coaching, but she didn’t really understand the rules behind it.  She had mainly played a computer version that told her what her choices of moves were.  Our 5-year old son, Holden, had never played but was eager to learn.  So when this opportunity arose to review the Starter Chess Learning Kit, I thought this would be a great time to teach them the proper way to play.

When the kit arrived, all of the pieces were neatly stored inside the lovely zippered storage bag with carry handles and optional shoulder strap, making it easy to store and take anywhere.  I loved that, because my kids are famous for losing pieces to games unless there’s a clever way to store them.

Steve was immediately a fan of the roll-up chess mat.  What a great way to be able to own and store a chess set without taking up a huge amount of room for a traditional chessboard!  The pieces were sturdy, durable, full-sized pieces that were easy for small hands to hold.  There were even a couple of extra pieces included, and the website indicates that it’s easy to get replacement pieces should you lose any.

One evening, Steve popped in the DVD after dinner and had Haylee and Holden sit down to watch the first few lessons with him.  He set up the chessboard on the table behind them so they could follow along and learn the steps together.  The lessons were very straightforward, step-by-step, and easy for even young kids to understand.  By the time they went to bed, tDSCF0853here was an excitement in the air, and I could tell the enthusiasm to play was building! 

The next morning, Holden was up at dawn and rushed downstairs.  All by himself, he popped in the DVD and finished watching the remaining video segments so he could get a jump on his sister and be ready to play!  When Steve came downstairs, Holden proceeded to explain to him some of the rules he’d learned, and Steve began to laugh as he told me what Holden had to say! 

The second Haylee got up, Holden accosted her and encouraged her to finish watching so they could play a round together, even before breakfast!  Sure enough, before long, they were playing their first games together.  Even when Holden didn’t win, he was so enthusiastic and couldn’t wait to get another family member to play with him!  For days, all we heard was talk of playing chess!

Steve played several rounds with each of them, and he said he could already tell how much Haylee’s skill level and understanding had improved from watching the videos just one time through, and he said he did not have to help her the way he’d had to in the past.  We were both so impressed that Holden, being 5 years old and never having played chess before, had totally picked up on it and was playing really well!  Their skill level can only grow as they practice more and more.

In the days that followed, this set came out again and again.  It was a regular weekend occurrence for somebody to be playing with it.  I just can’t say enough good things about this instructional set!  I did not have high hopes that a 5-year old could learn from a DVD, but he most certainly did!  If he can do it, anyone can!  I highly recommend it for any family that wants to learn to play chess together!  Chess House offers additional instructional DVD’s for higher levels of play, and I hope to collect those over time so the kids can continue to build their skill level and learn some of the tips and tricks of strategy that will advance their level of play.

Check out what other members of the Crew had to say about the Starter Chess Learning Kit by clicking the banner below.

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